Woodbury City Council getting in the zone tonightAfter months of revising, updating and consolidating, the Woodbury City Council is ready to approve the last pieces of the zoning ordinance tonight.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
After months of revising, updating and consolidating, the Woodbury City Council is ready to approve the last pieces of the zoning ordinance tonight.
City staff have been working to update the zoning ordinance, a task that hasn’t been done since 2001, to accommodate the growth and significant changes the city has seen as part of the comprehensive plan.
The Planning Commission and council approved the changes article by article over the last few months.
“Some of the process was a little behind times,” said Planning and Economic Development Manager Janelle Schmitz, adding that it was time for some tweaking and language updating to make it simpler.
The ordinance, which includes different articles and sections that regulate various areas of the city, now has a new zoning map.
The map groups together the freeway district, which had parts that used to be as far as a mile away from Interstate 94, and shoreland areas that were not included in the old map.
It also points out where office parks, shopping centers, the medical campus and residential areas are at.
Future developments are included in the map as well but have not been divided into specific uses until developers are ready for the process.
“The map was intended to convey what that future land use was,” Schmitz said.
Some of the changes implemented were relevant to businesses applying for conditional-use permits, said senior planner Melissa Douglas.
She explained that those seeking to fill spots already zoned for multi-tenants will no longer have to apply for a conditional-use permit.
“We didn’t necessarily need to do it for each tenant,” she said, adding that as long as the use complies with the existing permits and no major renovations are planned, then businesses will not need the permit.
As for residential uses, the zoning ordinance has been updated to increase the rear yard setbacks from 25 to 35 feet.
Staff said it was not an appropriate distance for homes with decks that go as far back as 15 feet.
“We felt that was very tight for things like drainage and maintenance,” Douglas said. “The goal for the ordinance is to maintain property values.”
So for new home construction, the 35 feet setback will need to be applied, she added.
The new development that staff and council have been reviewing over the last year is now added to the zoning ordinance.
The area south of Bailey Road and west of Radio Drive is poised to include shopping, restaurants, a grocery store, parks and housing.
The zoning ordinance has been updated to include new design standards for that area, and a landscape ordinance was also updated to offer incentives for tree canopies.
“We felt that this incentive approach was a good way to try and see if it works,” Douglas said.
Parking and garages
Parking standards were also another part of the ordinance that was updated.
“Sometimes we made them less stringent, sometimes we made them more stringent,” Douglas said.
For example, drive thru stacking was required to be at least six spots; now it’s 10.
The number of spots required at elementary schools will not be as many as those required for secondary schools, according to the new ordinance.
Douglas said drop-off and pick-up at elementary schools held higher priority than parking spaces, which is why they were reduced.
Additionally, accessory buildings like attached garages were capped to 1,000 square feet in the old ordinance.
Now they can be up to 2,000 square feet as long as they’re not bigger than 50 percent of the home.
“The idea of the garage is to be an accessory,” Douglas said, adding that it seems OK to approve a 2,000 square-foot garage for a home with a bigger footprint.
Storage sheds were also increased from 400 square feet of space to up to 1,000 for commercial buildings to encourage businesses to keep equipment inside those sheds.
Staff has been keeping a running list of requests and issues that have come up over the last few years before going through them to update the zoning ordinance.
The updates also correspond with some that came up during the time they were updating the comprehensive plan from 2007 through 2010.
“The theme was really to try to reflect what we do as a city,” Douglas said. “It’s a big job.”
The City Council will review the last two articles of the zoning ordinance tonight at a public hearing. The majority of those changes are organizational and the purpose was to consolidate similar sections in one location.
To review the entire ordinance, visit www.ci.woodbury.mn.us.